A Two-State Solution? Just Not According to the Clinton Parameters

By Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, January 30, 2017

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 401

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: With the start of a new era in the White House, Israel must let go of the two-state solution as defined by the Clinton Parameters. It is time for a reassessment of Rabin’s approach, which stressed the importance of the preservation and development of Area C in Judea and Samaria under Israeli control as a prerequisite for defensible borders.

The entry of President Trump into the White House marks a new era in the US and around the world, giving rise to crises and upheavals as well as new opportunities. The demands of the State of Israel, in the context of its overall vital interests in the region, will be reviewed and reassessed. It is imperative that Israel formulate a clear stand on central issues based on wide public support. As a first step, Israel must let go of the two-state solution as laid out in the Clinton Parameters.

The time has come to inquire what Prime Minister Netanyahu means when he speaks of his commitment to a two-state solution. When even the leaders of the Zionist Left agree that settlement blocs should remain under Israeli sovereignty, it must be clarified for the public what these blocs actually mean. Do they contribute anything towards Israel’s need for defensible borders?

The course Israel has taken since the signing of the Oslo Accords requires critical examination, regardless of the essential reassessment in anticipation of the Trump era. Since the autumn of 1993, almost everything has changed. Above all, new threats have emerged with a previously unknown military logic of their own.

The Israeli-Palestinian issue, too, has undergone significant changes. The ?Oslo idea, in its quest to end Israeli control over Palestinian citizens, was largely realized. It was already complete in January 1996, when Israel concluded the withdrawal of its forces from the populated territories of the West Bank. The Palestinian population living in Areas A and B, or approximately 90% of the total Palestinian population of the West Bank, has been controlled since then by the Palestinian Authority (PA). How can this be described as “apartheid”?

In the summer of 2005, the Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip ended (control over the Palestinian population in the Strip had already been transferred to the PA in May 1994). Gaza has been a sovereign entity controlled by Hamas since its seizure of power in the summer of 2007. East Jerusalem and Area C in the West Bank remain in dispute, including settlements, army bases, major roads, vital commanding areas, and the open expanse towards the Jordan Valley.

These areas, held by Israel, are the minimum required for the conservation of a defensible territory. They fill two necessary conditions for a secure Israel. The first is the buffer area of the Jordan Valley, without which it would be impossible to prevent the quick arming of Palestinian terrorists in Judea and Samaria. The second is the advantage of Israeli control over the main longitudinal and lateral routes, which, together with the hold over the commanding areas, enables speedy access of IDF operational forces deep into Palestinian concentrations. Relinquishing these prerequisites in the Gaza Strip enabled the emergence of the Hamas military threat.

UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and the Paris Conference further solidified the notion of ??two states as requiring a complete overlap of two not-necessarily congruent trends: the ending of Israeli control over the Palestinians, and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and a full Israeli withdrawal. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was disinclined towards this overlap, as expressed in his last speech in the Knesset (October 1995). He was resolute on Jerusalem and emphasized the crucial hold by Israel of the Jordan Valley and the lateral routes leading to it.

The Clinton Parameters for conflict resolution, laid out in December 2000, were a step back from Rabin’s position. The turnaround was summed up in two premises not held by Rabin. The first was that the solution required the establishment of a continuous, fully sovereign Palestinian state, whereas Rabin envisaged a political entity short of a fully-fledged state. The second was that the border between Israel and Palestine should be based, with minor changes, on the 1967 borders in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

These premises left very little room for negotiation. Some clarification is required on how the Israeli position pulled away from the Rabin solution and towards the Clinton solution, which, in all likelihood, Rabin would not have accepted.

It is noteworthy that Rabin exploited the implementation of the Oslo accords to reshape the area as delineated by Israeli security interests. As part of this effort, he led a drive to construct a network of bypassing roads in Area C, without which the IDF would have had great difficulty advancing its forces to the deployment areas during Operation Defensive Shield (2002). The IDF could not, for example, have transferred a tank division hauled on tank transporters from the Anatot Base to Nablus if its route had passed through Police Square in Ramallah.

The fast, advanced road network outlined by Rabin gave Israel control over routes and flexibility in operating IDF forces, and demonstrated during Operation Defensive Shield the operational significance of utilizing to the full an area that is defensible. Rabin’s expanse-shaping moves were conducted concurrently with progress on the implementation of the Oslo Accords, and the international community made no claims that he was misleading it.

By contrast, any advance, however small, made in building up Jerusalem raises the suspicion that Netanyahu may not be sincere in his intentions about two states. There are many reasons for this difference, one of the most important being that Rabin did not commit to a continuous Palestinian state in the form of the Clinton Parameters. Netanyahu, especially during his term after 2009, found himself tied to that frame of reference.

At the strategic crossroads where we now stand, the Israeli government must re-clarify the complex of security interests inherent in Israel’s control over Area C. In this reexamination, Israel must depart from the idea of ??two states as interpreted, for example, by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former head of the National Security Council. He has argued and continues to argue that while current circumstances do not allow the reaching of a permanent agreement, and it is dangerous to rush towards unilateral withdrawal, the idea of ??dividing the area into two states on the basis of the 1967 borders, with amendments made for “settlement blocs,” is nevertheless the only reasonable option by international standards. Therefore, according to his understanding, settlement activity in all remaining areas that might someday be included in a Palestinian state should be avoided. Statements along these lines and in this spirit have also been made by Dennis Ross. Herein lies the main disagreement on what to do in Area C.

An Israeli reassessment has the potential to introduce a change in Jerusalem’s position by renewing its demand for the preservation of a defensible area, which depends on consistent Israeli hold over Area C.

The Israeli and international dominant discourse puts the State of Israel at an imaginary crossroads with only two options: preserving the democratic Jewish state by retreating to the 1967 areas, or becoming trapped in a conflicted binational state in which apartheid is inevitable. This is a conceptual trap not devoid of manipulation, as a crossroads allows more than two directions. The Israeli discourse, caught between these two dichotomous choices, ignores the potential security threat stemming from loss of control over the depth of the area and the Jordan Valley.

Senior security officials who support withdrawal assure the public that the army would be able to meet the country’s security challenges even with withdrawal to the 1967 lines. Their position ignores important changes that have taken place. If, after the withdrawal, the West Bank is taken over by an organization similar to Hamas in Gaza – Hezbollah, in all likelihood – the IDF would struggle to provide an adequate response to the possibility of simultaneous attack on Israel on several fronts.

These officials claim that even after uprooting the Jewish residents, the IDF would be able to operate throughout the area. But they ignore the level of forces that would be required for this undertaking. Without the mass presence of a Jewish population, the IDF will be defeated, and will withdraw as it did from south Lebanon in May 2000.

In the new war, under the new logic, citizens have a significant role to play in the general fighting effort. This was visible in the fighting in Donetsk, Crimea, and Abkhazia, as well as in the Chinese expansion into the China Sea via thousands of civilian fishing boats. It is a familiar necessity resonating from the early days of Zionism: to maximize the civilian presence together with a military foothold.

In short, without a constant hold on the whole of Area C, Israel has no defensible borders. The way Rabin delineated the expanse of Area C demonstrates his farsighted understanding of the importance of those areas beyond the 1967 borders, which must be in Israel’s full control.

It is time to emphasize that there is more than one way to realize the two-state logic. It is in Israel’s security interests that it embark on full-scale construction in Area C.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research associate the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. He was a Corps commander, and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.

This is an edited version of an article that appeared in Makor Rishon on January 20, 2017.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

January 30, 2017 | 12 Comments » | 68 views

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12 Comments / 12 Comments

  1. Sounds like semantic juggling. Undermining the two state solution by redefining it so as to avoid conflict with the international community. The “international standards” he refers to are illegal under international law.

    This “international community” is committed to the 1974 PLO Phased Plan and merely pays lip service to Israel’s survival. But, President Trump has already shown that they can be intimidated into compliance. So why bother.

    Moreover, it’s dangerous. Any agreement to final borders which denies in principal Jewish Sovereignty over all of Eretz Israel will sooner or later be held as a sword of Damocles over Israel’s head.

    I can’t find it now, but I remember reading that Prime Minister Netanyahu — that commenter was correct though addressing someone else, I don’t know him personally and he is the Prime Minister of Israel, decorum is in order — gave a speech many years ago in which he explained that there was no such thing as a demilitarized state but statehood, once granted, could never be revoked, and that Israel would then lose the freedom of movement necessary for the Armed Forces to protect.

    He contradicted himself later without apology. Why not just do the same again and, now that he doesn’t have to humor anybody, reject the Two State Solution, once and for all.

    “A foolish Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Foolish Minds.” – Emerson

  2. (cont.)

    The “Palestinian” Arabs had de facto quasi-sovereignty in Jordan, in Lebanon, major power and influence in Kuwait and now defacto quasi-sovereignty inside Eretz Israel. Every time they used it the same way and except for the last, every time it was rightly taken away and they were justly expelled. Here’s another news item today that makes my point:

    “Police: Israeli Arab went on killing spree after being called ‘Jew lover’
    Muhammad Shinawi, 21, is indicted for the Jan. 3 murder of Haifa resident Guy Kafri and the attempted murder of judge Yehiel Iluz • Shinawi had recently become radicalized and believed “Jews are infidels who should be killed,” prosecution says.”


    Did you notice that the article said he had been RECENTLY radicalized? It doesn’t matter if you know a polite, friendly, helpful Arab or Muslim or two. They can become killers overnight. No way of knowing who or when or how. It is too dangerous to have them around. Or, for that matter, to allow them self-determination anywhere else!

    How can any one in their right mind talk about allowing these homicidal Neanderthals access or giving them rights, or not taking back all of the rights they have been so foolishly granted! They are criminally insane. Once that is acknowledged, it can be seen to be totally consistent with international law to restrain and isolate, them, as well as to govern, control, and regulate their every movement down to the smallest twitch or bowel movement.

    [typo corrections on last comment: principle not principal and “little” not “foolish” minds.]

  3. Sebastien Zorn Said:

    these homicidal Neanderthals


    Neandethals have been recognised by researchers as having been relatively ciovilised, and far more advanced than previously thought. They also had a rather larger brain cavity, denoting a larger brain. But it seems that the times were against them. Perhaps they were overwhelmed by larger numbers of Cro-Magnon, and there are speculation that there was intermingling between them-to an extent. It seems that some rare examples of humanity today display both genetic and facial Neanderthalian characteristics.

    In fact, growing up, there was a kid in school that we all called “chimp”… more because of his ears than face, but it was a bit of a toss up. Himself, he was the nicest and most amiable of all of us and actually grew up to become quite good looking, his features changing with age. Married well, nice family, made a big name for himself in the sciences. etc. Gone since 2014, poor fellow.

  4. Gaza is very small but is still a real problem and there will be at least one more war there. Hopefully we make the next war the last war there.

    You can not compound this problem by giving the Pals a state even on 42% of Judea/Samaria. The problem would get way worse expotentially.

    No room physically for two states and no economic viability for a stand alone PA state. It is just another war waiting to happen.

    I do agree it is time to build massively in area C of Judea/Samaria. Need lots of building starting with E1. The small towns in the Jordan Valley need to be built larger. They are too small.

  5. The government of Israel; must stop doing what’s it thinks is politically correct and perform the right action to defend our people with zero tolerance, no holds barred, to eradicate terror and expel the Arabs. There are no innocents.
    The silent Arab majority is complicit by not objecting to terror and violence.
    The nations of the world throughout history stood idle while Jews were persecuted and killed. The Arabs/Muslims terrorized and expelled over a million Jewish families and confiscated all their assets including, personal property, businesses, homes and over 120,000 sq. km. of Jewish owned Real Estate property for over 2,400 years.
    When is the Israeli government stopping in deluding itself that the Arab/Palestinians want peace? (How many more terrorists’ entities like Gaza is Israel willing to tolerate and condone, which puts Israel’s population in mortal danger). It is time to face reality and stop wasting time on a façade in the illusion of peace. The Arabs behavior and actions speak volumes, that they do not want peace.
    When you teach your children to commit terror and violence, honor terrorists and suicide bombers, these are demonic and destructive people look around the world and the terror and violence they are causing; there is no one to talk to.
    Once the Israeli government decides to face reality that there is no second Arab/Palestinian state and that the Arabs do not seek peace, only Israel’s demise. Then you must proceed with a new approach and take care of the people in Israel without appeasing or giving concessions to the Arabs or the world at large. When you defend your citizens at all costs, eventually the world might respect you. Past response and actions by the Arabs was and is detrimental to Israel’s and its people.
    Any Israeli who believes in creating another terrorist entity in Judea and Samaria aka The West Bank (Just like Gaza) needs to have his head examined. No sane responsible government would undertake such move, if it does, it must be replaced.

    It is time for Israel to take what belongs to the Jewish people, everything west of the Jordan River, with no equivocation and ignore the objection by the world at large. Israel’s foremost duty and responsibility is to protect its people at all cost. Ultimately the world at large respects a government that defends its people no matter what the criticism. It is about time for Israel to take off the gloves and address the terror and violence situation with all the resources and zero tolerance. The World at large throughout history has stood idle and or was complicit when Jews were terrorized, persecuted and murdered.
    Many Jewish assets throughout the world for over 20 centuries have been confiscated and or retained by the locals, without any compensation to the Jewish people.
    YJ Draiman

    P.S. Fighting terrorism is not unlike fighting a deadly cancer. It can not be treated just where it is visible – every diseased cell in the body must be destroyed leaving no traces.

    When a poison strikes the human body, the only way to address it, is to remove it and destroy it completely. That is the way the terrorist organizations and its people should be treated.
    YJ Draiman
    No Jew has the right to yield the rights of the Jewish People in Israel –
    “No Jew is entitled to give up the right of establishing [i.e. settling] the Jewish Nation in all of the Land of Israel. No Jewish body has such power. Not even all the Jews alive today [i.e. the entire Jewish People] have the power to cede any part of the country or homeland whatsoever. This is a right vouchsafed or reserved for the Jewish Nation throughout all generations. This right cannot be lost or expropriated under any condition or circumstance. Even if at some particular time, there are those who declare that they are relinquishing this right, they have no power nor competence to deprive coming generations of this right. The Jewish nation is neither bound nor governed by such a waiver or renunciation. Our right to the whole of this country is valid, in force and endures forever. And until the Final Redemption has come, we will not budge from this historic right.”
    David Ben Gurion
    (David Ben-Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel and widely hailed as the State’s main founder).

  6. If you thought I was still endorsing a concept of the TSS with my “Amen”, I wasn’t. I just like/support the idea of massive construction in area C. I don’t care what someone else’s pretense is for doing it.

  7. @ Edgar G.:
    I know and Lemmings don’t commit mass suicide — that appears to be our specialty — it was a staged mass-murder of baby Lemmings by a Walt Disney Productions — when Disney himself was in charge — Director for a fake documentary. Moreover, it does a disservice to animals, insects, reptiles, or vermin to compare them with these human monsters. Far be it from me to impugn their honor. But, there is no better way of describing these anti-social features under review, so, at the risk of appearing tendentious*, I will stand by the appellation, “Neanderthal.” A literary license, if you will. “Negative characteristics” just isn’t strong enough somehow and you can only repeat ‘crazy”or “murderous” so many times. But, on behalf of the Neanderthal legacy, I thank you for your accurate observation.

    * Isn’t that a great word? With that one word — which is just a snide academic way of saying having too strong an opinion — critics “discredited” — not really — Joan Peters Magnum Opus, “From Time Immemorial” which utterly demolished the case for “Palestinian” Arab nationalism along with “Battleground” by Schmuel Katz.

  8. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    Sebastien no thanks needed. I’m just reminded somehow of the old Irish ditty by the very famous (then) Charles Lever) which went like this…(No one need read it if feeling serious)

    “Dija heer of the Widda Malone-Ochone..who lived in the town of Athlone-Alone… She melted the hearts of the swains in those parts… So lovely was Mrs. Malone-Ochone…and it goes on somewhat like this, and then…”So modest was Mrs. Malone Ochone..that no one could catch her alone-Ochone….etc.etc. THEN..

    The denouement… ‘Till came Mr. O’Brien from Clare-how quare..’tis little for blushing they care-down there…put his arm round her waist gave 10 kisses at laste..and etc.

    And the widda they all thought so shy..me eye..gave never a simper or sigh..for why…. and ….. we’ll leave it there

  9. @ Stanley H. Barkan:
    I’m googling it here and Wilde appears to be an Emerson fan. Here’s another: ““I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”



    “Conformity is the last refuge of the unimaginitive”


    Wish I knew where these quotes were from though.

  10. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    But “Philistine” which I was dissuaded from using as “racist” when I was on the loonie Left, sorry that’s redundant isn’t it, works perfectly after all.

    a person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, or who has no understanding of them.
    “I am a complete philistine when it comes to paintings”
    synonyms: uncultured, lowbrow, anti-intellectual, uncultivated, uncivilized, uneducated, unenlightened, commercial, materialist, bourgeois; More
    hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts.
    “a philistine government””
    The’ve named themselves perfectly — as far as it goes, anyway. Leaves out a lot.

    Neo-Philistines. or combining it with the prefix of Neanderthal, Nea-Philistines.

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